Harlow v. Fitzgerald

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Harlow v. Fitzgerald
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued November 30, 1981
Decided June 24, 1982
Full case name Bryce Harlow, et al. v. A. Ernest Fitzgerald
Citations 457 U.S. 800 (more)
102 S. Ct. 2727; 73 L. Ed. 2d 396; 1982 U.S. LEXIS 139
Prior history Cert. to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
Holding
Presidential aides were not entitled to absolute immunity, but instead deserved qualified immunity.
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Powell, joined by Brennan, White, Marshall, Blackmun, Rehnquist, Stevens, O'Connor
Concurrence Brennan, joined by Marshall, Blackmun
Concurrence Brennan, White, Marshall, Blackmun
Concurrence Blackmun
Concurrence Rehnquist
Dissent Burger

Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800 (1982), was a case decided by the United States Supreme Court involving the doctrines of qualified immunity and absolute immunity. The case held that the aides were generally entitled to qualified immunity; however, an aide could obtain absolute immunity but must "first show that the responsibilities of his office embraced a function so sensitive as to require a total shield from liability. He must then demonstrate that he was discharging the protected function when performing the act for which liability is asserted."

Despite its immediate application to White House aides in the case at bar, the case is regarded as most importance for its clarification of the qualified immunity standard that is applicable to government actors more generally. The Court held that "government officials performing discretionary functions, generally are shielded from liability for civil damages insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known"

External links[edit]

  • Text of Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800 (1982) is available from:  Findlaw  Justia